False Marketing.

Screenshot of the DuckDuckGo browser.

As one might conclude from my previous posts on this blog, I’m a bit of a ‘self-dubbed’ analytics nerd. I like tracking movements that people make online (tracking habits), and, with respect to my blog, I like tracking what brings people to my blog and what keeps them on my blog.

Lately I’ve been noticing a lot of people have been finding me from the search engine ‘DuckDuckGo’. I’ve never used DuckDuckGo before. I’ve pretty much solely used Google Chrome and Safari for about ten years now, so seeing such a high refer rate from DuckDuckGo had me interested.

I must be ranking highly on the search engine, right?

I went to DuckDuckGo to see how I am ranking and the first thing I read is “DuckDuckGo – The search engine that doesn’t track you.”

lol

DuckDuckGo doesn’t track you. It just tells me what state you live in, what time and date you found my blog and what you searched online that allowed you to find my blog.

That doesn’t sound like tacking at all…

This is what I would suggest is very false marketing.

While my posts seem to rank really highly on DuckDuckGo (and that’s pretty cool), I’d like to remind anyone reading this, if you’re someone that uses that browser, it’s being tracked… regardless of what the front page of the browser might advertise. I’m pretty sure we’re always being tracked online. Unless you’re a seriously articulate A+ level, 1 in a million underworld hacker, your movements online are being tracked.

Why you shouldn’t buy followers.

Do you ever notice how some people on youtube can have millions of subscribers and only get 10,000 – 20,000 views per video, while others have millions of subscribers on youtube and they amass 500,000+ views per video?

Do you ever see someone with tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of WordPress followers post something to their blog only to get three or four likes… and rarely ever have someone comment on their page at all? You may not be able to see their analytics, but you can see the responsiveness to their blog and it makes you wonder… why no one cares what they’re posting if they have so many followers.

If you do notice this, do you ever wonder why this is?

I have a theory. A theory that I cannot prove, but a theory that I am certain is what’s happening.

About three months into my blogging journey was when I amassed my first 1,000 followers (which was a huge day for me!) on WordPress. About that time was also the point in time when I began getting inundated with messages from people who promised me things like: 5,000 organic, responsive followers for just one single payment of the low, low price of $49.99!

$49.99… that sounds like a great deal, doesn’t it?

Actually, one offer that I got for just $200 was for followers on my WordPress page, Twitter account and Instagram account! Good little leeches saw all of these accounts connected and got creative!

These messages come in through my ‘Contact’ page on WordPress and through DM on Twitter and Instagram. I’ve never paid a whole ton of attention to Twitter, so being bombarded with these messages there was… interesting. I guess if you meet their criteria, they really do want to sell you their ‘product’.

In case you’ve yet to figure out, their product is not ‘organic, responsive followers’. These followers are bot accounts, made in masses, created to be sold to people wanting to get ‘InstaFamous’ quick.

How do I know this? Because I’ve purchased followers for Corporate accounts before.

About three years ago I was put in charge of Digital Marketing/Online Engagement for an international event that was happening in Ottawa. This event, while very familiar to people in certain parts of the world, has failed to garner the international attention it desires for being an international event.

My boss wanted a larger following on the social media platforms – specifically twitter and instagram, so that he could promote these mass groupings of followers to potential sponsors to gain more sponsorship money for the event. How do you get a larger following on social media on Friday when your boss’ first sponsorship proposal is being pitched on Monday morning? You buy them of course.

I didn’t like the idea at the time. I didn’t feel right about the idea at the time. We really didn’t know where the money was going, or to whom it was going to, we just gave over the corporate credit card for the promise of 50,000 new followers.

It’s worth noting that when you buy followers, you’re buying the number alone. Engagement is not guaranteed, or even likely.

We went from 6,000 followers on Friday at 4:00 pm to 56,000 followers on Saturday at 4:00 pm.

My boss was happy. He got what he wanted. He could make his pitch on Monday proclaiming that we had a massive following of people to which we could influence through social media to buy their products, and for that reason, they should sponsor our event.

And he did that.

He sold the crap out of our social media following and brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue as sponsorship for our event.

The problem was, we could not actually provide any return on investment. To the outside eyes, we had 56,000 followers. In reality, we had 6,000 followers. 6,000 concentrated followers from one area of the world.

It’s also worth noting that when you purchase followers it distorts your performance metrics.

My boss went to these International Corporations selling ROI for a following of 50,000 plus when in reality our following was 6,000.

He got the sponsorship revenue that he wanted, but in return, we could not provide these companies any ROI. Actually, in the end, he wound up having us ‘fudge’ the analytics to make it look like we had larger responsiveness than we did. This caused a rift in the relationship with these sponsors because he essentially blamed lack of investment in this companies on these companies. Let’s just say… they weren’t interested in sponsoring more events after that.

The purpose of this story? Don’t always believe everything that you see online. My theory is that a lot of these major Youtubers that people might be watching, they bought a lot of their followers. If someone has 1.2 million Youtube subscribers and are making an average of 10-15 thousand views per video, something’s not right. If someone has 10,000 WordPress followers and garners 5-10 likes per post, something’s not right. You may not be able to prove they bought their followers, but you can think twice before you accept any recommendations for products or advice they’re giving you.


REASONS TO NOT PURCHASE FOLLOWERS:

  1. It’s dishonest. Whether your accounts are for business or personal, shouldn’t your main goal to be honest with the people you’re interacting with?
  2. You’re not purchasing organic, responsive followers for your page, you’re purchasing bot accounts to make it look as though you have a lot of followers when in reality. If you think your content is good, these bots aren’t going to care.
  3. Purchased followers distort your performance metrics. If you have have 100 followers and a 60% read rate, your performance metrics are what I used to call ‘Bomb.com’ in the marketing realm. If you purchase 1,000 followers, your performance metrics are still 60 followers of 100, but your metrics look like you get 60 of 1,000.
  4. Instagram and Twitter have people on staff to purge fake accounts. This purging of bots has gotten even more strict after the last Presidential Election in the United States.
  5. If you have a desire to give ROI with respect to your social media platforms, you’re essentially lying to any companies you’re doing business with. You’ll be lying to get their business and you’ll need to lie to them (and ‘fudge’ the analytics) once you fail to meet the designated ROI.
  6. If your goal is to influence, you’re not going to be able to influence bots.
  7. Bought followers can often bring spam with them.
  8. What you lack in credibility after purchasing followers, you’re going to have to lie to cover up, or let people see the truth… you lack credibility.

I wholeheartedly believe that purchasing followers is wrong. I wish that brands would pay more attention to the people and companies they’re doing work with. I want them to look beyond the number of followers that someone has to ask for real time analytics and proof of engagement.

I won’t name any names, but I can think of at least a dozen people off the top of my head I feel like would struggle to show real time metrics/analytics to any of the companies they do business with. That being said, there seem to be a lot of companies in this world who see that follower count and don’t look beyond followers. I guess you could say that’s the company’s fault, and yes it partially is. But then you get into the ‘fool me once…’ cliche.

If you’re really wanting to be organic, open, honest and real with the genuine people who do choose to follow you on social media, buying extra followers isn’t going to do you any favours.

Beginners guide to wordpress analytics (and using them to grow your audience)

*Warning – this is an exceptionally long post.

You’ve heard of them, possibly from your boss, probably from sports and absolutely in gambling. Analytics have become a powerful force behind the things we do.

The process of collecting, storing and using data is not new. Scientists have been doing it for hundreds of years with research. It’s only been in recent years, however, that analytics have become an integral piece to business and life with respect to our computers and how we use them.

Why do analytics matter?

Quite simply, analytics matters because they work. You can be overwhelmed with data and the value of it may be unattainable. Applying analytics creates insights. Human brains were not built to process the amounts of data that are today being generated through social media, sensors, and more. So analytics allow us to compile data in an easy to understand format to use it in our favour.

With wordpress, analytics are essential to understanding your audience. If you’re here as a hobby-blogger, then you likely won’t desire knowing any of this. But, if you’re openly, willingly trying to grow your blog, analytics are an important piece to doing so.

WordPress has laid out analytics in simple graphs and charts to make it easy for every user to understand. Here are some of the ways you can use wordpress analytics in your favour.

UNDERSTAND WHERE YOUR AUDIENCE IS FROM

For me, the vast majority of the audience that reads #MillennialLifeCrisis are from the United States. Second behind the United States is the United Kingdom. This information is important to note because if you want the most people possible to see your blog posts, you want to be posting during the hours in which the most people will be awake.

The ‘Magic Hours’ for distribution of communication are between 11:30 am-2:00 pm and from 7:30 pm-8:30 pm. These time frames are widely used by companies around the world as windows in which to distribute their information. So, if the majority of your audience is from the United States, schedule your posts to be released such that they’ll fall within that window. If the majority of your audience stems from Australia, try to schedule your posts to be released during that window… from an Australian time zone.

UNDERSTAND HOW PEOPLE ARE FINDING YOUR BLOG

Use the “referrers” section to understand how people are finding your blog. In many, if not most, cases, the majority of referrers will be wordpress.com readers. This is because when we come on wordpress, we browse each other’s blogs. But take a moment to also understand where else people are finding you.

For me, I don’t have a facebook account for #MillennialLifeCrisis, or personally. So, seeing that 6 people have been referred to my blog today from Facebook shows that people are taking my content and sharing it to their facebook pages. This is not only a huge compliment, but can also show me that it might be a valuable thing for me to create a facebook page for which to share my content.

Take note of that listing on the bottom as well. ‘Search Engines’. Though it’s a small number, only two referrers today, it’s an important number. What ‘Search Engines’ is telling me is that two people were able to find my blog through their search of a subject on google. This is HUGE! If your blog posts can crack the google system, this means your content has the possibility of reaching an even greater audience than wordpress users because your blog posts will appear when people search the subjects you’re writing about.

‘POSTS & PAGES’ CAN TELL YOU WHICH OF YOUR POSTS RESONATED MOST WITH YOUR AUDIENCE

Review the ‘views’ listing under posts and pages and allow this to show you what posts have resonated most with your audience. By flipping between “Day” to “7 days” to “30 Days” all the way down to “All time” you can see which of your posts have received the most attention, not just on the days in which you posted them, but have continued to receive attention even though you might have posted them three months ago.

Knowing which content of yours has ‘withstood the test of time’ and not just fallen into the back pages of your blog can provide you insight towards popular topics. Popular topics help provide subjects you may wish to follow up on, subjects that could gain interest should you take a deep dive further into.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR ‘INSIGHTS’

This section tells you the most popular day of the week and hour of the day. Please note that this section will change/update weekly. But, if you’re someone that perhaps only posts one blog post per week, reading this insight might suggest that Monday is a good day to post next week.

Not only are ‘Tags & Categories’ how most people find you through WordPress, but they’re also how your blog finds its way into search engine listings. Using proper tags of your content can make a big difference so far as to who finds your content. So, if you’re trying to grow your audience/readership, ensure that you’re properly tagging your posts, and you’re reviewing this section of your analytics to see which tags/categories are gaining the most traction.

Case in point of proper categories being critical – posts that have been made to #MillennialLifeCrisis that I did not categorize have provided the lowest amount of traction to my blog.

If you’re unsure of which tags or categories to use, I recommend using the ‘search’ function to search tags and categories similar to the content you post. If you post reviews of music, search ‘Music’, ‘Music Reviews’, ‘Rock & Roll’, and so on and so forth. You can see which tags and categories have the most updates and gain the most traction.


Honestly, I could go into analytics all day long. There’s so much to make use of and so much to learn from. I think the most important lesson to take from your analytics, though, is that if you really want to grow your blog/audience/readership, they’re abundantly important.

Perhaps I’ll make another post like this further down the line. For now though, I think this is a good starting place.

Use your analytics wisely and they’ll be one of your greatest tools to blogging, communication, distribution, social media and online business in general. It’s all in using what you’ve got in front of you!